This post continues the story of Sweet Flower, Jeffry and Constance — a cooperative story that is being written my myself and my daughter. If you have not read part one please go HERE and do so now.
“What the moo was that?”
Jeffry looked at the girl “What?”
The girl looked at Jeffry “What?”
“I said,” said Sweet Flower, “What the moo was that?”
“Is your cow talking to us?” asked the girl.
“Uh… yeah I guess she is” Jeffry couldn’t quite believe it either. “And, by the way… what the moo was that?”
By the looks of it they were clear on the other side of the valley. He could just make out their peach tree way, way, way, way off in the distance. “How’d we get way over here?”
“Hold on a sec.” She was about to take another giant step when she noticed Jeffry had let go of Sweet Flower’s collar. “No, really, HOLD ON. We’ve got to get a bit more distance behind us before we can stop to have a pretty little chat.”
Jeffry held on to his cow.
The girl concentrated and stepped and… poof… they were another 3 miles up the valley.
“How are you doing–” Before Jeffry could finish his statement she took another giagantor step. “– that? ”
Jeffry was turning a nasty shade of green by the seventh step. “Please tell me you are going to stop.” She looked at him raising first one eyebrow, then the other, then both.
“Fine. I’d really rather the cow throw up, not you.”
“I really don’t want anybody to throw up, if that’s alright, so could we just STOP for a minute?”
“Fine. We can walk normally for at least a little while before they catch up.”
“Who are ‘THEY’?”
“People I’d rather we not meet.”
“Is it because they eat meat?” Sweet Flower had found her voice again. She blinked her big brown eyes at them. Then, because they were standing in a field of barley, she leaned her head down and started to munch on the barley. “Hmmm… nutty with a note of summer sun.”
“Yes. And they’re also mighty fond of killing humans too.” The girl leaned in to Jeffry as they watched Sweet Flower, “ I can take a talking cow, but a pun making cow… I’m not so sure about that.”
“I don’t think you have much room to make demands, Miss. In fact, who do you think you are? I don’t know where I am or where we’re going, or even what your name is!” He was starting to yell, “ You landed on me! You pulled me out of my village! You’re stealing my cow! You’ve kidnapped me!” Her eyebrows were moving again, but she looked as if she didn’t intend to say anything until his rant was over, so he continued, ”You’re clearly on the run, you’re probably some kind of escaped convict!” He said feeling his rant crest. “I’ve been kidnapped by a cow thief, and… Lord knows what else you’ve done! You’re probably in trouble with the king… or you will be!”
Her arms now as crossed over her chest (or at least she crossed them as much as she could. Here heavy back packs prevented the full “arms over chest” stance of defiance she was going for.) She listened patiently to the last few puffs of his tirade. “The king knows exactly what I’m doing. My name is Constance Middlelaine. I’m the second daughter of King Wyco and Queen Gingerdale Middlelaine. It’s under HIS orders that I travel.”
“You’re a princess? You?” He shook his head, “Princesses live in towers and raise golden sheep and sing to the birdies and their sheep all day. They don’t go hairing round the country getting their shoes eaten by magic cows.”
A stunned look crossed her face for a moment, “How would I fit the sheep in the tower– nevermind. I am a princess and I can prove it. And there’s no such thing as golden sheep.” She lifted her braid to reveal a blue spot where her neck met her chin. It was in the shape of a crown, the royal mark. Now that he took a closer look at her, she did seem a bit more princess-y than most of the people he’d ever met. Her scarlet jacket was made of high-quality cloth, and her tunic was really a pink dress trimmed in gold, just tucked up to look like a shirt. She wore brown trousers, but they were an even, amber-like color, not like his bark-dyed wool ones. Her’s were tucked neatly into socks at the knee (though the sock without a slipper was looking a bit worse for wear at the moment). The final clinching detail was the gold band that fastened her braid.
At last, all he could say was, “Oh.”
“The men that are chasing us think that by kidnapping me or one of my sisters they can make my parents to ban magic from our lands. They hate magic, you see, even though they’re willing to use it to kidnap me. They attacked our castle in Middlelaine while my parents were visiting one of our other domains. I sent my sisters a head through a portal, but some one had to shut that down manually. I’ve been running by myself since. My slipper–” She took the pink and gold slipper off her foot and waved it under his nose “– these slippers — are three-mile-slippers. They let me travel three miles with each step, but they only work when they’re together, so I have to stick with the cow.”
“I have a name, you know.” Sweet Flower had finished with her meal.
“I’m very sorry, my lady cow.” Constance blinked from Jeffry to the cow. She realized that she had been very rude to the heifer by speaking about her in third person. She gave her a low curtsy, “Pray tell what it is?”
“She’s Sweet Flower,” volunteered Jeffry.
“How do you do my dear bovine Sweet Flower?”
Sweet Flower shrugged “You know, cant complain.”
Constance gave the cow an affectionate pat on the side of the neck. “You are a most extraordinary cow.”
This warmed Jeffry to the Princess. He patted Sweet Flower on the other side of her neck. “You know, I think you’re right about that.” He reached over the cow and offered the Princess his hand. “I’m Jeffry, by the way, Jeffry Herdman.”
The Princess softened to an apology, “I do beg your pardon for all this. Rest assured you will be well rewarded when we reach my parent’s castle. It should only be a day or two of leaps away.”
He had to admit, she did look genuinely sorry. He decided that if a Princess with magical slippers was going to bound out of nowhere and knock into him and steal his cow it might as well be her. She wasn’t so bad.
“I promise I will get you home, but we should probably move now. There was a pair of two-mile-shoes left in the castle. They’re bound to be following us.”
Just when Jeffry thought he was getting the hang of this land leaping thing they landed in a river. The Colomious River ran deep but not very swiftly in the spot where they splashed. They sank down to the rocky river bed then zoomed up to the surface.
Landing in a river is not a pleasant thing. “Mooooo!” Sweet Flower complained when her head broke the surface.
Jeffry, whose mouth had been open when they leaped got a mouth full of river water. He coughed it out. “Can we please not do that again?
“Sorry.” Constance apologized. “Land leaping is not an exact science, sometimes you land in the water.”
“Sometimes you land on people!” Jeffry grumbled. Constance and Jeffry began to swim to the shore, Sweet Flower began to cow-paddle in the same direction.
Soaking wet and miserable the dragged themselves onto the pebbly beach and caught their breath. Jeffry began to remove his waterlogged apparel, surely Constance would let them rest a bit while their clothes dried in the sun.
“What are you doing?” She asked as she turned from him.
“Nothing, I’m just getting out of these wet clothes.”
“Mooooooooooooo.” Sweet Flower said in a cow version of a cat call. Sure she could talk now… but sometimes mooing was just as good.
“So they can DRY.” He said defensively.
“How about — um… NO.” Constance pointed down the beach. There was a village a short walk away. “Lets go into the that village and find some dry clothing instead.”
Jeffry shrugged and pulled his wet tunic back on. As the trio trudged got closer to the village they began to hear music and laughter. When the came arround the bend they saw a fantastic array of tents in a field outside of town.
“Oooh the circus is in town!” Exclaimed Constance. She ran ahead and Jeffry and the cow followed. She stopped at a campfire and spoke to the strangest assortment of people Jeffry had ever seen.
One had double jointed limbs and was practicing his contortionist’s act. He seemed to be doubling into himself, bending himself into an impossible pretzel of a knot, then straightening himself back out again.
The man next to him stood eight feet tall on long skinny legs and the man next to him only came up to Jeffry’s elbow.
There was an organ grinder with a little monkey who danced around when the man played music and sat sullenly when the music stopped.
There were two twins dressed in matching, fancy, shiny, tunics who practiced walking on a wire strung from one tent pole to the next.
“This is Gorlando, the Great.” said Constance as she indicated a man dressed in a dapper suit with silk pantaloons and a frilly shirt. He carried a cane, but never seemed to use it for balance or to actually aid him in walking. “He is Ringmaster here and the finest magician in the land.” She nodded at Jeffry and Sweet Flower, “these are my travelling companions, Jeffry and Sweet Flower. He’s a shepherd from the valley and she’s… well, his cow.”
Jeffry was having a little trouble taking all this in. He WAS just a shepherd from the valley and he had never seen anything or anyone like this before. His mouth and eyes were wide with amazement… until the more sophisticated Constance nudged him and whispered, “It’s not polite to stare Jeffry, dear.” He shut his gob, but not before a bug flew inside.
With as much dignity as he could manage he spit the bug out.
Sweet Flower, never one to pass up a free gift, quickly picked up the dazed fly with her own mouth and started to chew. “Thanks, buddy.”
“Listen.” Constance said, a little annoyed at their country antics, “I’ve explained the situation to The magnanimous Gorlando and he is going to give us some dry clothes and have a few of his men take us up the inn where we can rest.”
“Oh, that’s very kind.” Said Sweet Flower.
“But is that safe?” Asked Jeffry. “I mean if you” he nodded to Constance “Are so worried about the bad guys catching up, should we be stopping to rest.”
“Ohhhhhh, suddenly you’re the pragmatist.” Constance complained. “Look, FARM BOY!” She poked a finger in Jeffry’s chest, “this is an issue that involves the entire Magic community, and The Great Gorlando is part of that community. He won’t let anything happen to us while we are in his care.” She yawned, and removed her pokey finger so she could cover her mouth. When she spoke again her voice had moved from anger and command to a pathetic whine. “I’ve been Land Leaping for days, and I need a nap. Is that so much to ask?”
“No.” Jeffry felt defeated when he hadn’t even known he’d been in an argument. He was fine with resting for a while. He just wanted to make sure the princess would be safe. “I –”
“It’s alright, little farm boy,” said Gorlando with a smile, “I’ll put my best men on it.” He called over to the group. “Caston, Bator, Ludvinnio might I borrow you for a special assignment?”
The contortionist, the 8 foot tall man, and the midget got up from the fire and hurried over to their boss. “I want get these three some clothing and take them to the Hogs Barrow Inn, tell Old Fellsworth, the innkeeper, to give them a nice comfortable room and to send the bill to me.”
“Yes boss.” Said the contortionist. The three turned to lead the way to the Hogs Barrow Inn when The Great Gorlando stopped them.
“Just a moment. I think the lad may be right. We need to make a bigger show of force so no one messes with you.” He pointed his cane toward Caston. A puff a smoke came from the end of the cane and blew into his face. When the smoke cleared the contortionist was huge rock encrusted being.
“Yes!” He pumped his enormous rocky hand in the air. “I’m the Golem again.”
With a second poof the eight foot tall man, Bator, was turned into a huge hairy man with big heavy features. The giant held up his hands examined the huge fist with a smile. “Excellent, thank you Gorlando.”
“And what would you like to be?” The Great Gorlando asked Ludvinnio, the midget.
“Something big and impressive, of course.” He said “and maybe something impenetrable?”
Gorlando considered for a minute. “How about this?” He pointed the cane and transformed the midget into a gigantic metal man.
Ludvinnio clicked his claw like hands. “Very nice, mistro, very nice indeed.”
“So, goat boy, do you feel safer now?” The Ringmaster asked as Ludvinnio carefully picked up the sleepy Princess and carried her off toward the town.
“Sheep boy.” Jeffry grumbled.
“What was that?”
“He said ‘thank you very much.” Said Sweet Flower over her shoulder.
The cow nudged the boy and he turned and gave a bow. “Yes, thank you maestro Gorlando you have been very kind.”
As they had to walk on cow and boy sized legs and the Golem, Giant and Metal Man were walking on enormous Golem, Giant and Metal Man sized legs, Jeffry and Sweet Flower were soon out paced by their companions.
To cheer up Jeffry as they trudged into the village Sweet Flower started a little word game… “The Great Garbonzo.” She said with a little heifer snort. “Garbage-io the Magnificent… The One, The Only Garlic-Breath-io.” By now Jeffry was smiling too. “His cheesiest, Sir Gorgonzalo.”
“Don’t forget the Gardinia the sweet smelling.” Jeffry offered.
Sweet Flower snorted with delight. “Ohh stop, you’ll give me the hiccups,” she laughed, “And my milk will curdle.”
“Or maybe you’ll make milkshakes tonight?”
But at that moment both boy and cow stopped laughing. A commotion up ahead warned them that something was amiss. They hurried forward and when the sign for the Hog Barrow flew through the air and landed at their feet they broke into an all out run.
[End of part two]
- July Creative Challenge, Day 14, Topsy-Turvy (ritalovestowrite.com)